Tag: soccer

Politics is Football While Football is Certainly Not Politics

Politics is Football While Football is Certainly Not Politics

Soccer ball in a soccer field


The World Cup is still thundering on as you can read the news all over hesgoals.

Football results are relatively simple. 2-0, 3-5. In politics, things are more complex. For example, party A gets 44 percent of the vote, party B gets 42.8 percent, and then there are almost always the other parties, which do not occur in football.

It is often said that football has nothing to do with politics – or at least, shouldn’t. That is already difficult to maintain when you look at the enormous commercial importance involved in professional football, but sometimes it is literally not true. In 1978, I remember, the World Cup was played in Argentina by dictator Jorge Videla. Freek de Jonge shouted: Blood on the Pole. I believe there was exactly one Dutch professional footballer who listened to it.

But more important than the pious plea that football has nothing to do with politics is this observation: politics is not football.

“If we politicize everything, there is a threat of a tribal struggle, a struggle of everyone against everyone. Then there is no longer any question of living together.”

Or is it? Monday, June 25, was the day Erdoğan and his AK Party won the election with some 53 percent of the vote. The secular, socially democratic CHP under Ince, an opponent of Erdoğan, amassed some 31 percent. With the support of the extreme nationalist action party MHP, Erdoğan is assured of a majority and can implement his dream presidential system.

In an orderly state governed by the rule of law, the winner of the elections is not just the boss; there is always a significant minority that also needs to be heard. In this sense, Erdoğan is more of a footballer than a politician: the winner takes all. The losing party, the minority, is the loser in this case and there is no such thing as a second place – any more than in a football match.


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In politics, unlike football, it is not only about game technique, control, and team spirit; in politics, disposition plays the greatest role. What is just, what is right, what is closest to the good life? Fundamental contradictions become visible here. That is why it is so important that after the elections all participating parties recognize the result because the civil war is lurking. In politics there are winners, but there should be no victors. The majority plus one does not equal 1-0.

From Turkey to the United States, where Trump is stretching the line between winning and conquering by the day. Trump’s spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, for whom I don’t feel overwhelming sympathy despite her last name, was recently turned down at a restaurant. She had gone with her company to Lexington, Virginia, a town about 300 kilometers from Washington D.C. There would be eaten in the restaurant the Red Hen – ‘in de Rooie Haan’, think of the former VARA radio program. But the owner refused to serve her.

After all, hadn’t this Sanders talked about separating parents and children at the Mexican border on radio and television? Didn’t this woman know how to provide an alibi for all of Trump’s policies? Yes, Sanders is Trump’s spokesman, it’s her job. But Sanders didn’t come that night to give a speech or hand out flyers. She came to eat.

Now, as the owner, you can refuse certain customers. No one has to let a man in with a machine gun in his hand. You can judge your customer on behavior, especially if that ‘can lead to unrest’. But it’s a thin rope: In the 50s, African Americans led to unrest in all-white restaurants, not because of what they did but because of what they were.

The refusal to admit spokesman Sanders is celebrated by the anti-Trump movement as an “act of resistance.” But I don’t think it’s a victory, at most a pyrrhic victory, a sham success. Because if we start politicizing everything, including a visit to a restaurant, then there is a threat of a tribal struggle, a struggle of everyone against everyone. Then there is no longer a question of living together, but of a meeting of hooligans.